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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

By Shawn McKenzie 12/23/2002

After a recent rash of geek blaspheming lately, I can say, yes, I did see The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater last year.  While I found the first hour of that movie a little boring, I liked the rest of it (right around the point in the movie when the Fellowship begin on their quest.)  Now I have seen The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers I’m kind of having the same reaction as the first movie.

When we last saw the Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir (Sean Bean) had been killed, and another, the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), fell to his death (or so they thought) saving the others, and the rest had split into different groups.  The bearer of the Ring, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), is still trying to get to Mordor with his friend and fellow Hobbit, Sam (Sean Astin), where they plan to destroy the ring once and for all.  Gollum (voice of Andy Serkis) soon joins them.  Gollum is a weird little creature suffering from a split personality disorder who had possessed the ring at one time (he calls it "my precious.")  He offers to help them get to Mordor, but his evil side actually has different plans for them.  They eventually run into Faramir (David Wenham), the brother of a murdered member of the Fellowship, while on their way.  Meanwhile, the forces commanded by evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee), who still plots on ruling Middle Earth and is building an army of monstrous Uruks to assist him, catches hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd).  The hobbits eventually escape, but soon find themselves under the suspicious eye of Treebeard (voice of John Rhys-Davies), an ancient and gigantic tree-shepherd who wonders if they work for Saruman and are responsible for the heavy deforestation that's going on.  In yet a third area of Middle Earth, human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are on their trail, hoping to save the hobbits.  They eventually arrive in the Kingdom of Rohan where King Theoden (Bernard Hill) has been put under a spell by Saruman and is controlled by his court advisor, Wormtongue (Brad Dourif.)  With the king's son dead, his niece and nephew, Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and Eomer (Karl Urban), now doubt the king's skills, especially with Saruman's forces closing in.  Once the King is freed from his spell, things get better and they head off for the cliff fortress at Helm's Deep where they hope to make a stand against the impending hordes.  Eowyn likes Aragorn, but he still pines for Arwen (Liv Tyler), his elf lover, who must make a decision about whether to leave with the rest of the elves, or stay with him and deal with his mortality (he’ll grow old and die someday, while she stays young and pretty.)  With Saruman's enormous forces making their way through the land and toward the fortress, the various groups continue on their quest to defeat the evil wizard and eventually return the Ring to its point of origin where it can finally be destroyed.

This movie had more action than the first movie, but it was in a different place.  While I found the first hour of the first movie boring, the second hour of this one was the boring hour.  I honestly think it could be found interesting only by LOTR geeks (which I am not one.)  The first hour packs a punch, then it really slows down, only to pick up with full speed in the last hour.

I have a minor gripe about this movie’s technique as a sequel.  Some of the best sequels in movie history exist on their own merits, and don’t rehash the previous movie.  While Two Towers is a different story than Fellowship, it relies on clips from Fellowship to remind the audience of different plot points from that movie that are relevant to this one.  In The Empire Strikes Back, did we see Luke Skywalker remembering when he blew up the Death Star, illustrated by clips from Star Wars?  No, we didn’t, so they should have realized that pretty much everyone going to see Two Towers has seen Fellowship.

Now, I will get to the many good points in the movie.  The first one that stands out is the CGI of Gollum and Treebeard.  They are probably the most realistic CGI characters I’ve seen in the CGI era.  I don’t know how director Peter Jackson was able to get a team assembled that could outdo the king of CGI, George Lucas, but I applaud him.  Second, all of the performances are great in this film, but I doubt we will see any Oscar nominations this year, like we did last year for Ian McKellen.  This is because the action is so spread out amongst the primary characters that no one gets a majority of the screen time (even McKellen has less screen time in this one than he did in the last one.)

Oh, actually I do have one other minor gripe.  I love the CGI characters, but they made their voices so gravely that I could barely understand what they were saying.  Oh well.

It’s a long movie, but The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is one that deserves to be seen on the big screen, even more than the first one did.  I don’t salivate over all things LOTR, but I liked watching this one (except for the important, but excruciatingly boring second hour.)  Since no one is going to see Star Trek: Nemesis (based on the horrible box office numbers), maybe you could go see The Two Towers with a LOTR geek (who might be a converted Trekkie.)  Instead of knowing fluent Vulcan, he knows fluent Elvish!


Get the Platinum Series Special Extended Edition of the first movie on DVD:

Get the J.R.R. Tolkien book that the movie is based on:

Get the original score soundtrack composed by Howard Shore:

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Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

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Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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